Steredenn: Binary Stars has made its way onto the Nintendo Switch, and it offers a compelling pick-up and go shoot’em up experience that’s a joy to play on the handheld-console hybrid.
Boasting a retro art style and a sick electronic heavy metal soundtrack, the game fits right at home on a Nintendo platform. Battles are flashy and a joy to look at, some shoot’em up games have an issue where it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on due to too much happening on the screen at once, but this wasn’t so much the case in Steredenn. I was able to keep track of my ship, and often my demise felt like it was my fault.
There isn’t much content in Steredenn: Binary Stars, but that’s okay considering the primary mode will take you a lot of time, skill, and patience to overcome. No playthrough will ever be the same as enemies will come at you differently in each run, albeit I will say things can get a little repetitive visually after a multitude of playthroughs. After each level, you’ll face a boss battle, and once you defeat them, you can apply one out of a set of five unique power-ups that are dropped by the boss. These power-ups are random each time so you’ll never get the same benefits in each run so you’ll have to plan accordingly.
The game puts you in the cockpit of one of five different ships with unique abilities and traits that make each of their playstyles completely different. You only start out with one of the ships but progressing through the game will get you the others. With the addition of random power-ups at the end of each level, players have the option to form their own unique playstyle. My favorite ship was the one with the most armor and rockets, that being said, this ship also was the slowest, so it was more difficult to dodge enemy ships.
Alongside those power-ups, the game includes a massive variety of gun types and bots. Bots act as little turrets you can place that’ll take out enemies for you although they don’t work too well during boss battles as they can be destroyed by enemy gunfire. Surprisingly, there are also melee weapons that dish out a ton of damage but require you to get close to your enemies which can be risky. With power-ups and a slew of weapon types, as I said before, players will be able to customize their playstyle during each run, and after a while, it’s easy to know which weapons you want to pick up and which you can pass by.
There are also a few neat secrets for you to encounter in Steredenn, including hidden boss battles as well as power-ups that’ll change the game dramatically. Usually, these power-ups give you a considerable boost in something while also making the game a lot harder in another aspect so they can be risky but also rewarding to pick up. You also have the option of passing them though if you’d rather not take that risk.
Encountering a boss will unlock them for you in the game’s arena mode. This mode lets you go and take on bosses you’ve faced so if you get stuck, you can practice against them as much as you want until you’re comfortable going back into the game’s primary mode. Some of the bosses you’ll encounter later on in the game are really tough so learning their attack patterns will be the key to defeating them if you hope to progress to the game’s final boss. This is an excellent addition for players who might not be as familiar with the genre, and the extra practice helps as the earlier bosses became a cakewalk for me.
The game also has a cooperative mode that’ll let you and a friend take on the main game together. I got the least amount of time with this mode, but it’s a fun addition. Like most titles on the Switch, players can use two of the Joy-Con controllers to quickly hop into co-op wherever they are. Having a friend alongside you is a refreshing addition to the game’s sometimes brutal difficulty. Steredenn: Binary Stars is another great couch co-op title on the Switch, and it’s nice to see the eShop gettings titles that focus on that feature because it’s still awesome!
There’s also a daily run mode that you can play once and day and compete for the highest score on online leaderboards. This mode is a reliable addition as well that should be perfect for players who want to jump into the game for a quick run. It’s a mode that works well on a handheld device like the Switch.
Unfortunately, I did encounter some technical issues; the game crashed on me four times. While I understand that these issues happen, after the third crash, I was a little bit annoyed. Especially considering that sometimes the game would crash on me during a good run. I’d say that outside of that though, my experience with Steredenn: Binary Stars was pretty fantastic overall.
Whether you’re new to the genre or a returning veteran, for $13, I think that Steredenn: Binary Stars is a worthy addition to any Switch owners library. The game has a decent amount of modes that ultimately all work together in helping the player learn and progress through the game. So if you’ve been itching for a cheap shoot’em up game on the handheld-console hybrid, maybe do yourself a favor and check out this one.